Bottas, Verstappen crash out of second practice

SPIELBERG, Austria -- Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen both crashed out of an eventful second practice session at the Austrian Grand Prix as Ferrari's Charles Leclerc set the fastest time on Friday.

The separate incidents saw both cars make contact with the wall and resulted in the session being suspended twice while marshals cleaned up the mess.

The Verstappen incident occurred in the final corner of the lap and saw the Red Bull swap ends just after the apex. The car slid backward and into the barriers, destroying the rear suspension and rear wing in the process.

Verstappen blamed the wind, saying, "I was already complaining all my laps about the wind being really tricky in some places, was just losing the rear.

"I got into the corner, and suddenly you could see in the data that the rear turned around, so that definitely didn't help. The cars are more sensitive to the wind, as you could see with Valtteri and Seb at one point. Crashes can happen. Maybe it's a good thing because they take the whole car apart so they can put new parts on."

The session was red-flagged to allow the marshals to retrieve the car from the barriers, and when it restarted, the front-running cars re-merged for their qualifying simulation runs. Bottas was among the drivers pushing to the limit when his car snapped out of control in the high-speed Turn 5, ploughed across the gravel trap and slammed into the barrier.

The Mercedes driver caught the initial slide, but as he did so, the car veered off the track and into the gravel. Once in the gravel trap, Bottas had no control over the trajectory of his car, and he hit the barrier head-on.

The impact was recorded at 25G, meaning Bottas was sent to the medical centre for precautionary checks after returning to the paddock. The front of his Mercedes was demolished in the accident and will need a complete rebuild overnight ahead of final practice and qualifying.

The Red Bull Ring barriers almost claimed one more victim when Sebastian Vettel lost control of his Ferrari shortly after the second restart. Vettel was running wide out of the penultimate corner and then tried to turn into the final corner from the kerbing. The rear of the car got loose on the kerb, and he slid through the apex before skittering across the run-off area and stopping just short of the barrier.

His mistake may not have caused serious damage like Verstappen's and Bottas', but it meant he, too, failed to set a time on a qualifying simulation run. Leclerc was the only driver among the top three teams to set a representative time between the red flags, leaving him fastest on a 1:05.086 by the end of the session.